Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Blown away by Esperance

I think it must just be a timing thing. So many people have told me how beautiful Esperance is and I have no reason to doubt them. But yesterday and today it's just like being in a giant wind tunnel. The famed turquoise coloured sea is just a choppy mess of uninviting dark blue with brown streaks and white froth. The piles of seaweed take up more real estate on the beach than the sand does. And the sand blasts passers by in the face as it flys off the beach at speed on the back of the wind. I thought that perhaps we were just unlucky to get the wind, but when I commented to a local about how windy it was today, she laughed and said it's always like this. Signs in the town for the upcoming Esperance Festival of the Wind are a bit of a clue that perhaps it's windy here more often than not. We're about two weeks early for the festival and it seems so is the wind.

There's something about the wind that can put the shivers up you, and not just in a temperature sense. Especially at night. The wind here rocks the van and gives the feeling that it could put us in motion and send us sliding down the embankment we're parked on at any time. I've triple checked the handbrake and put chocks against all the wheels just in case. It has given me only a scant feeling of security. I know that the feeling we might roll away is all in my mind, but that doesn't really comfort me either. Contending with the wind in Melbourne is usually just a case of grabbing a jacket. It's typically only a minor inconvenience. Other than the hot northerly which brings the fear of bushfire. The wind in Wellington is just icy cold. It's never really seemed unnerving to me in any way though I'm sure it has its moments. The wind through Henfield in the south of England where we used to live could sometimes ark up in a frightening way. We were having rennovations done that included the removal of our chimney, which we'd found was precariously balanced on a board, the lower foundations of the chimney stack already having been removed some time earlier by the previous owners. Before it's complete removal, one night with the wind howling and the thought of the barely supported chimney toppling over, the true derivation of the euphemism "coming down on us like a ton of bricks" rung all too true. I spent half the night just staring at the ceiling. The wind in the French village of Barbentane was an altogether different proposition. The mistral blows through this tiny village in Provence and has been said to cause people to completely lose their minds and go mad. One night we lay in our beds listening to the shutters banging in the wind, struggling to sleep and discovered the next morning that each of us had had vivid nightmares. We put it down to the mistral invading our souls. But it could have just been the mass of peaches we all ate before bedtime. Or the copious amounts of alcohol we drank on that trip. Nevertheless, the wind had an eery feeling about it. As for the poor people of far north Queensland and their ordeal of only a few weeks ago, well a wind of that magnitude is just too scary to contemplate.

I expect that the strong wind will be a bit of a constant across the southern coast of WA. Tomorrow we will find out as we head further west. Apparently April is the month to be in Esperance when the temperature is perfect, the wind is stilled and the sea has the aquamarine colour of folk lore. Is it possible that everyone who told me how great this place is and the judges for the best Australian beach were all here in April?

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